Florence Itineraries

Sensational Florence a city with skyline sculpted by cathedrals and places

1. An introduction and brief history to this wonderful city

Florence is the cultural centre of Italy, and perhaps the western world.  Florence has a skyline sculpted by cathedrals and palaces, laden with history and famous for its robust cuisine and genteel charm.

Hope you enjoy it!  Carpe Diem!

Spend your days lost in galleries & nights at authentic trattorias in this beautiful birthplace of Renaissance.   Towers and places evoke a thousand tales of its medieval past; designer boutiques and artisan workshops stud its streets; and there’s a buzzing café, restaurant and bar scene.  Centre of the Renaissance Universe and home of Machiavelli, Michelangelo and the Medici, this is a magnetic, romantic and above all a memorable city.


Laden with grand-slam slights and experiences, Florence offers the perfect introduction to Italy’s famed dolce vita.  It truly does have it all: extraordinary art and architecture, magnificent landscapes, vibrant festivals and a seasonally driven cuisine that is emulated the world over.  There are few places in the world where food, fashion, art and nature intermingle so effortlessly and to such magnificent effect.


2. Itineraries:

Day 1:

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8am – Visit the majestic Duomo:

Visit Florence’s and one of Italy’s most iconic landmark  – the magnificent Duomo. Capped by Filippo Brunelleschi’s red-tiled cupola, it’s a staggering construction whose breathtaking pink, white and green marble facade and graceful campanile dominate the Renaissance cityscape.  After seeing the Duomo from all sides and visiting the inside of the cathedral, all you need to do to complete the experience is climb to the top of the cupola!  To see an extraordinary view of Florence climb its 463 steps: the route takes you by the interior of the dome where you can admire Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgement (1572-9) up close.



11am – Visit the Gothic Baptistry

Visit the Gothic Baptistry to see copies of the bronze East doors dubbed “the gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo.  Make your way to Florence’s Mercato Centrale to join the lunchtime queue at Da Nerbone, which has been in business since 1872. Go local and order trippa alla fiorentina (tripe and tomato stew) or follow the crowd with a feisty panini con bollito (a hefty boiled-beef bun, dunked in the meat’s juices before serving).


Afternoon – A fantastical square of Sculptures:

Then walk down Via dei Calzaiuolti to Piazza della Signoria – the fantasy-land of sculptures.  You will find the Uffizi Gallery here which is Florence’s most popular and important museum, the number of artworks displayed under its roof is basically incalculable.  Check out the Fountain of Neptune is a famous, huge fountain built by Bartolomeo Ammannati and his assistants between 1563 and 1565; also known as “Il Biancone” (The White Giant), it was meant to be an allusion to Florence’s dominion over the sea.

Admire statues such as a copy of Michelangelo’s David (the master copy is kept in the Accademia Gallery), a Marzocco sculpted by Donatello (the original is housed in the Bargello), Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli and a bronze representing Cosimo I on horseback by Giambologna.



Evening – Visit the magical Ponte Vecchio:

Ponte Vecchio Bridge – “Old Bridge” in Italian – is the most famous bridge in Florence (and Italy) and undoubtedly one of the city’s most illustrious landmarks. It is an incredibly breathtaking sight when seen from afar, and even more so when you walk across it!  It spans the narrowest point of the Arno River, with numerous overhanging shops, whose glittering treasures delight the visitors’ gaze as they pass by. The bridge – entrance point to the city of Florence from the Cassia road – is made of wood and stone and dates back to the Roman era.



Day 2:

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8am – Wander around the Boboli Gardens:

The magnificent Boboli Gardens were laid out for the Medici in 1550, one year after they bought the Palazzo Pitti.  They represent a perfect example of Renaissance gardens and were opened to the public in 1766.  The more formal parts of the garden, nearest the palazzo, consist of box hedges clipped into symmetrical geometric patterns.   These lead to wild grows of ilex and cypress trees.  Statues of varying styles and periods are dotted around, and the vistas were planned to give views over Florence.


11am – Check out San Lorenzo:

Head to the church of San Lorenzo to see the monument tombs by Michelangelo in the Cappelle Medicce and the marvellous staircase he designed for the Biblioteca.  Move on to San Marco and admire Fra Angelico’s exquisite pastel frescoes.  Relax in the Giardino dei Semplici, then look at Spedale degli Innocenti on Piazza della Santissima Annuziata.


Afternoon – An afternoon of Michelangelo:

Visit the Galleria dell ’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s renowned David.  Since 1873, Michelangelo’s most important works have been in the Accademia.  The most famous of all dominates the collection: Michelangelo’s David (1504).  This colossal Classical statue (5.2m / 17 ft) depicts the biblical hero who killed the giant Goliath.  It was commissioned by the city of Florence and positioned in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.  This established Michelangelo, then aged 29, as the foremost sculptor of his time.  In 1873, it was moved to the Accademia, to protect it from the weather and pollution.  Michelangelo’s other masterpieces include a statue of St Matthew finished in 1508, and the Quattro Prigionieri (the four prisoners), which were sculpted between 15211523.


Evening – A magnificent Sunset:

To end your day head up too to  Michelangelo, a square overlooking the city from the first hill in the Oltrarno where you can enjoy a marvellous view of Florence at Sunset!

Arrive early if it is going to be a good sunset as it can get busy on a sunny day.   To top of your day visit one of the Rooftop terraces for a wonderful drinks with a view.  Some of my favourites are: Three Sixty Rooftop Bar – Hotel Minerva, La Terrazza Lounge Bar – Hotel Continentale, Caffe La Terrazza – La Rinascente and Se-Sto – Westin Excelsior



Day 3:

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8am – A morning in Pisa:

Visit the magnificent Campo dei Miracoli – the “Square of Miracles,” is an apt name for Pisa’s main square. Also known as the Piazza del Duomo, the area features a large, green open space and hosts a group of marvellous monuments that are famous all over the world.

The four masterpieces located in the piazza are the baptistery, the cathedral, the cemetery, and the world-famous leaning tower. All of these monuments have had considerable influence on the art and architecture that followed, and, because of this, the piazza has been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites since 1987.



11am – Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa:

Visit and climb one of Italy’s signature sights, the Leaning Tower lives up to its name, leaning a startling 3.9 degrees off the vertical. The 58m-high tower, officially the Duomo’s campanile (Bell Tower.)  Over time, the tilt, caused by a layer of weak subsoil, steadily worsened until it was finally halted by a major stabilisation project in the 1990s.  Climb the 294 steps for fabulous views of Pisa.


Afternoon – Visit wonderful Lucca:

Start you visit by visiting Lucca’s Duomo, San Martino.  Marvel at its elaborate black-and-white striped façade and interior, which hoses a wooden image of Christ, said to have been carved as he hung from the cross.  For those that fancy a fantastic view, you can climb the Torre dei Guinigi to see one of Tuscany’s highest roof gardens.  It also has spectacular views over Lucca and beyond.

Then head down to Piazza del  Mercato, originally built around a Roman amphitheatre and visit some fantastic independent shops and enjoy alfresco dining.



Evening: Walk on the historic city walls

Surrounding the old centre of Lucca is a virtually complete complex of city walls – this defensive network was constructed during the Renaissance and stands to this day.  At strategic intervals there are 11 bastions such as the bulwark of San Martino and the Porta San Pietro.  A complete footpath connects each bastion – the Via delle Mura Urbane; this footpath is lined with trees and stretches for some 4km total length.


Day 4:

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8am – The Medieval town of Monteriggioni:

Visit the beautifully preserved medieval town of Monteriggioni – one of the most impressive walled Medieval towns in Tuscany. It’s the typical fortified village that started its life as a castle, perfectly rounded to suit the hill on which it has stood since the beginning of 1200.

The castle was built by the Sienese between 1213 and 1219. The  intact fortified wall presents 14 towers along which the guards used to walk and patrol the walls and 2 gates, one called the Franca or Romea Gate which faces Rome and the other known as the Florentine Gate since it heads toward Florence.


11am – Walk along the Castle Walls:

Take a walk along the castle walls – you can obtain a combined ticket that also includes the interactive Armoury museum.  Grab a great lunch in one of the delightful restaurants – Bar dell’Orso and Antico Travaglio are good picks.


Afternoon – Visit beautiful San Gimagnano:

Visit beautiful San Gimagnano and its sensational medieval towers.  With its multitude of towers sticking out against the horizon, San Gimignano is one of the most iconic and recognisable destinations in Tuscany. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, San Gimignano, also called the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages,” owes its fame to the incredible quantity of towers that rose above the rooftops of the small town, as many as 65 during the days of the town’s heyday. Thirteen of those splendid towers make up a distinctly unique skyline today.

The Cathedral is a must-see, which was finished in 1148 and is one of the most illustrious in all of Tuscany.  The Piazza della Cisterna is the most beautiful and famous piazza in all of San Gimignano. It is enclosed by a wall of nobility houses and medieval towers.


Evening – Delight your taste buds:

Ask the cheese shops in the town and ask them to cut you a few slices of pecorino which you can savour while walking around.  Leave some space for an ice-cream from Gelateria Dondoli. He won ice-cream world champion in 2006/2007 and 2008/2009.  No visit would not be complete without tasting some of the delightful wine – try Bottega Torciana or Boboli.

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